Why Should I Study Abroad?

In an issue of Newsweek, describing how President Obama filled his top administration with men and women who have lived and studied abroad during the formative periods of their lives. "A Team of Expatriates" illustrates that U.S. domestic and foreign policy is best carried out by people who have had the direct experience of living and learning on the terms of a culture not of their own.

Participating in one of our programs allows you to:

  • See the world.
    • Americans are notorious for not knowing anything about the world outside of their own bubble.
    • A National Geographic global literacy survey found that 87 percent of students in the United States between the ages of 18 and 24 cannot locate Iraq on a world map, 83 percent cannot find Afghanistan, 58 percent cannot find Japan, and 11 percent cannot even find the United States (US Senate Resolution).
    • Not only will you be able to find other countries on the map, you will be able to say that you have been to them. There is nothing like landing on foreign soil and actually seeing the places that you have seen only on TV or in books.
    • Study abroad gives you a break from your regular routine as a student. Whether you choose a short-term experience or a semester or year-long one, you will earn credits by doing things other than sitting in a classroom on the WSU campus.
  • Experience other cultures.
    • By immersing yourself with the people of another country, you have the opportunity to pick up on nuances that cannot be explained in words.
    • Often, you will also meet students from countries other than the one you are visiting, learning even more about their culture and way of life.
    • As you learn to respect differences, listen carefully to others, cope with challenges, solve problems and develop independence, you develop traits and skills that are very valuable to employers.
  • Enhance your job opportunities.
    • The American economy is becoming increasingly globalized and companies need employees with language skills and cultural competencies. In addition, there are many government and educational institutions that find candidates with these skills attractive, and not enough graduates to fill all of the positions.
    • Studying abroad can be scary at first, but it allows you to face and overcome challenges, solve problems and develop unique abilities. This is very similar to starting a new job, and even to confronting different situations in a job that you have had for a while. Employers value creative thinking, flexibility, and problem solving skills—all traits that you can develop during a study abroad program.
    • When you list a study abroad experience on your resume, you immediately stand out from the crowd.
  • Get into graduate school.
    • A survey done by the Institute for the International Education of Students shows that studying abroad influences subsequent educational experience, decisions to expand or change academic majors, and decisions to attend graduate school. It also states that the core values and skills demanded by higher education are enhanced by studying abroad.
  • Improve your communication skills.
    • Study abroad experiences give you opportunities to understand others' values, perspectives and deeply-held beliefs, and in doing so, reexamine your own. This allows you to effectively understand and communicate with others, a core skill in effective business negotiation as well as in life.
    • If you are lucky enough to study abroad long enough to master a language, you will find many opportunities in your life to use that language. Study abroad is the optimal way to learn a language because you are surrounded by it daily and listening to it in its proper context.